In Boneventure Cemetery, there is but one monument that stands out among the rest. Although it is not towering high, or even massive in volume, it has drawn myself as well as hundreds of others to seek it. It’s a plain statue. A portrait of stone. To say it is simple would be unjust, but it truly is. It’s just a young girl, in the likeness of the deceased, posed ever so appropriately at the side of her own grave. She looks as if she is weeping for the loss of herself. But alas, she is not weeping. She has no eyes, no true expression, just spheres of stone. If you look close enough, you may see them. You may even believe them to move. Her mouth is posed open, in just a slight way. You cannot tell if it is meant to express surprise, loss, confusion, helplessness, hopelessness. Part of you wants to tell her that she will be okay. But then you realize, she is not real. It’s an illusion and an image which has ingrained itself into the minds and continues to haunt all of those who visit… Including myself.
Her epitaph reads, “Allured to brighter worlds and led the way.” What a beautiful sentiment. Such a nice way of indicating someone has passed. I can somehow picture the statue, coming to life, with her flowy dress and clutching her flowery wreath, running through the flowers and trees, finding a brighter world. All the while, the mortals (we) follow her lead…Not knowing what is next, but following, nevertheless…
There are many tails about Corinne Elliott Lawton, the person who came before the corpse who now lies in this plot. Stories have spun through the centuries until a tale of unattainable love and suicide is concocted, and is now fed to tour groups daily. Alas, it is but a fable.
Corinne, living in the dark times she did, was stricken by an illness. According to her mother’s diary from around that time, it appeared to be a severe respiratory infection of some sort. Or perhaps even a dreadful common cold. (Yellow Fever epidemic? Pneumonia? The Flu?) Days passed, and Corinne appeared to be doing better, however the illness reared its ugly head once more and finally took Corinne down with it. Written in her mother’s diary, Corinne drew her last breath on January 24th, 1877.
Corinne’s father was of nobility, of high rank in the confederate army, hence the elaborate statue you find in Boneventure. He commissioned a famous Italian artist to create the likeness of his beloved daughter and turn her into stone. Now she sits there eternally.
He did a fine job.
One thought on “Meeting Miss Lawton”
That’s a well-written, insightful, poignant essay, Brooke. It reminds me of the lyrics to Martina McBride’s haunting “Concrete Angel.”